Ex-Christian, non-Christian; get over it

Whilst the article was originally written back in February, this piece written by Max Andrews appeared in my Twitter feed and attempts to argue that the term “ex-Christian” is not only incoherent, but apostasy (geez, some Christians love to throw that word around) His argument is as follows:

So, the problem with Ex-Christians is that they never were saved to begin with. At least, they cannot consistently claim to once be saved and now not. To say that one was once saved and now not saved because of apostasy is simultaneously affirming a truth claim on one hand while denying the same claim on the next hand. Any Ex-Christian must say that they were never actually saved or born again because they couldn’t have been if they believe it to be false.

Now I don’t have a PhD from Edinburgh (or anywhere for that matter) but the article doesn’t seem to make much sense.

To be a Christian is to be a follower of Christ, that’s what the term means. Christians follow Him because we believe he is the Son of God and that he died and rose again. We also trust Him with our lives, we believe he is trustworthy. Indeed the Greek word for faith used in the New testament is Pistis; and it carries the same meaning as fides:

Belief with the predominate idea of trust (or confidence) whether in God or in Christ, springing from faith in the same fidelity, faithfulness the character of one who can be relied on

Even the dictionary definition of faith has a similar definition:

Complete trust or confidence in someone or something

So what happens when that trust is broken? What happens when we stop believing Christ is trustworthy? You’re not going to follow someone you don’t trust, so you stop following Him and by the definition of a Christian you are an ex-Christian. You trusted Christ, now you don’t. Trust can be broken for a multitude of reasons, and we can debate until the second coming whether they are good reasons, but given the relational aspect of Christianity, everyone’s reasons will be based on their own personal experience of Christ and events often force perceptions to change. This doesn’t mean that because you’ve changed your mind that you didn’t believe in the first place; Even with the relationship aspect to one side it doesn’t mean that.  If I was a young earth creationist and believed the earth was 6000 years old, then changed my belief to the earth is billions of years old, that doesn’t mean I was never a young earth creationist. My reasons have changed, I am ex-whatever I was. This happens all the time in life, why is it hard to think that it can happen with faith?

This will inevitably raise the question of salvation which is the focus on Max’s article. Now it’s true  that God may indeed change us, but that is a process that can take a long time and may not be fulfilled this side of heaven (we don’t all get to have a “Paul on the road to Damascus” conversion moment) Max’s whole article comes across as an exercise in tribalism; If you’re one of us, you never leave. If you leave, you were never one of us” as one commenter on my Facebook page put it. This is rampant in fundamentalism as justification to shun those they don’t agree with, especially those who have left the fold and to apply pressure through emotional blackmail to get them back. Salvation is between an individual and Christ and Christ was quite clear no one goes through the father except through him (which is not the same as saying only Christians go to heaven) as well as being clear that calling yourself a Christian is no guarantee you’ll get to heaven either (Matthew 7:21-23)

Ultimately Max demonstrates a breathtaking lack of understanding as to why people believe and the kind of journey’s they go through in their life and faith. Not everyones story and faith and the same. He takes the easy option of simply dismissing those stories as “well you were never a Christian then” which I’m sure would not have led to his many honours had he taken the same approach to his studies. Trying to usurp Christ in passing judgement over who is/isn’t a Christian, is not only dangerous but probably apostasy as well.

If an atheist made this argument (and I did have an atheist say to me I was never an atheist) Christians would tear them apart and rightly so, it’s total nonsense and remains so even when said by people with PhD’s.

I would like to apologise if you now have Monty Pythons dead parrot sketch in your head.

I’m gay. Other people are too. Let’s move forward.

“We need to stop looking at this as an issue and start looking at it as real people” – Absolutely we do

Thoughts From Bravo

I read an article yesterday that included a statistic from The Suicide Prevention Resource Center –

They estimate that between 30 and 40% of LGBT youth (Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) have attempted suicide.

Within this percentage, LGBT youths who experience rejection from their families are more than 8 times more likely to have attempted suicide, and 6 times more likely to report high levels of depression.

I read this and was heartbroken. But not surprised.

I wasn’t surprised because I’ve seen first hand the discrimination, the hatred and the lack of understanding that LGBT people face on a regular basis. And the saddest fact is that the place I’ve seen this most prominently is in the church – I have no doubt that the church’s outspoken attitude on homosexuality and the way it has treated the LGBT community in the past has contributed to the suicide statistics mentioned above.

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My biblical justification for everything (just about)

Anytime a Christian publishes a piece expressing their viewpoint on a subject, there will inevitably be a comment left along the lines of “what is your support from scripture for this?” This comment seems to come from the position that the Bible is a hard and fast rule book that is inflexible and must be followed at all times. There is a huge discussion over the nature of the Bible and I’m simply don’t have enough knowledge to get into it fully so I highly recommend reading Peter Enns and Derek Flood on this subject. Since I am a Christian though and the Bible plays an important part of my faith, it’s good to have some justification from it (I guess) so here it is:

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. (Matthew 22:36-40)

As Jesus says, everything else comes from that so I just take those 2 commands and do the best I can with them. If a view or interpretation doesn’t do one (or both though I’m not sure it’s possible to do one without the other) of those 2 commandments then I will more than likely reject it; anything I do is with the aim of fulfilling those 2 commands. It’s simple (but I am simple when it comes to the Bible), it doesn’t address all the questions and there have been innumerable times I have utterly failed at doing those; but if Jesus highlighted them then it’s probably best to pay attention.

So there you have it, that’s my justification from scripture.